No noise? No problem: The players who benefit most from darts' new normal
Darts will be very different over the coming few months.
The next time you tune in on TV, there won’t be sweeping camera shots of 8,000 incredibly drunk fans in fancy dress cheering on every 180, roaring every double, and gasping at every wayward outshot.
The sport won’t be the same without some bloke in his mid-30s dressed as Spiderman spilling his pint over himself as he jumps up from his seat to cheer his favorite player’s entrance. And while that’s a sad thing for me, it might not be the case for some of the players.
The crowd plays a big part in darts, not only for entertainment value, but to help swing the result of some epic matches.
Reigning world champ Peter Wright has already said he is going to find it horrible without crowds, because they spur him on. Punters should take note, as Wright hit just eight of his 30 attempts at double when he crashed out of the World Matchplay last month.
Let’s start with the Premier League, which is due to head to Glasgow in September. The venue is usually a raucous atmosphere that plays into the hands of Scottish heroes Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. Anderson, in particular, has an incredible record playing in Scotland, thanks in a small part, I’m sure, to the unwavering crowd support.
Earlier on this year, Daryl Gurney missed eight darts at a double against a chorus of deafening jeers, which swung momentum Anderson’s way, as the Scot went on to win, much to the delight of the entire stadium.
Without the impact of a crowd on their side, maybe think twice before you take a short price on Anderson in September.
Similarly, keep an eye out for Brendan Dolan in the Grand Slam. He will be missing his usual electric entrance in Dublin.
Queen of our hearts
The same theory might mean punters are against Fallon Sherrock at the World Championships.
She was undoubtedly the biggest breakout star in last year’s tournament, and the crowd was firmly on her side throughout. She beat Ted Evetts, who was whistled and booed for the entire match, and she also knocked out world No. 11 Mensur Suljovic, who suffered the same treatment.
Sherrock’s run was eventually stopped by Chris Dobey, who used earplugs to block out the noise.
A boo’s problem?
Two players who might appreciate the lack of crowd are Gerwyn Price and Justin Pipe, as both seem to rile the loyal darts fan base.
Pipe’s incredibly slow and steady throws usually cause him to be on the end of a few jeers, particularly if he is on toward the later part of the card. Fans want to see booming 180s thrown at rapid speed — something that doesn’t fit nicely into Pipe’s game.
Price, on the other hand, is no stranger to a monster 180. But his overzealous reactions, over-the-top celebrations, and some questionable conduct during the Grand Slam of Darts in 2018 has labeled him as the bad boy of darts, and the crowd reacts accordingly.
Price has tried earplugs before and even asked the Professional Darts Corporation if he could wear headphones to listen to music while he plays. That request was turned down.
There’s a feast of darting drama waiting for us in the next few months, so it’s worth keeping those pointers in mind as we consider betting opportunities on the oche while the crowds are away.